Mental Health and Relationships

One of the best ‘assets’ for getting through a challenging mental health issue is to have the support of a close friend, especially a loving partner.

The dilemma is that poor mental health sometimes erodes those relationships. Here are a few tips for enriching your relationships.


If feelings get hurt, it really helps to step back and get a bigger picture. Both the person with the mental health challenges and their partner would benefit from asking themselves questions like, “Is this the way we normally get on? Do we usually have these problems during periods of better mental and emotional health?” Remember that depression, in particular, can distort perspective, making issues seem much more massive than they really are: so, borrow someone else’s perspective. Talking your issues out, with your partner or maybe a friend or counselor, might help you see problems in a different way.


A relationship is like a bank account. During better times, make lots of ‘deposits’: good times together, sharing meals, expressing your love to each other. Dates are important but they don’t have to be expensive: going for a stroll, having a picnic, even together dancing in your lounge. The accumulated wealth of memories and intimacy will create extra resilience for when times are more difficult.


A secret of happy, loving relationships is simple habits of kindness. Courtesy, thinking ahead about what your partner might want, and speaking gently with each other can make life together remarkably good, even when mental health is at a low ebb. That kindness extends to grace and forgiveness: putting grievances behind you, not holding grudges, and seeking to love your partner even though (at the moment) not a lot of love might be coming back to you.


Friends, sports clubs, wider family, church, and other groups provide valuable sources of strength and encouragement. Engaging with others, both with your partner and on your own, can help both of you recharge and take on board some therapeutic fun. Other support might be from agencies and professionals. It’s likely that a person experiencing mental health problems already has input from a doctor or counselor (and if you don’t, please do!) but don’t forget there are skilled professionals who can help improve the health of your relationship as well. Guidance counselors do not have magic wands, but they do have insights and advice that helped lots of couples get through problems and recover closeness and intimacy.  The big thing: don’t leave seeking help until it is too late.